Riding back home Friday night from a BBQ for students and teachers at the school where I teach, looking at the student sleeping soundly beside me, I wondered: Can we ever know what they go through? Far away from home, with few people who speak their language, with nothing written in their native tongue. What must they deal with every day? The loneliness, the sadness, the language barriers, the cultural barriers, and things and situations that we can never understand, that we will never experience, because we are not Korean or Japanese or Chinese or Indonesian or Indian or Pakistani or Russian or Saudi Arabian.
One of my housemates is Korean, and he told me one day that we (American teachers) can have no idea what these students go through, subjected to U.S. Immigration Laws, subjected to the rising and falling value of their home currency versus the dollar, subjected to a new world that they may only know from movies, or television, or books; a world that is unlike those movies, or TV shows, or books.
And can they ever know what we go through? I found out yesterday that I am only teaching one class this term. One 1-hour class for four weeks. And, soon after I found out about this, I got an email, saying that enumeration for the census will be finishing up soon. For some of us, it will end this week. For others, it may end next week. Normally I wouldn’t complain. I will have more free time to see movies and volunteer at SIFF. But, with only one class to teach, I don’t need more free time. I need more money.
So perhaps, on this, we can understand each other. Maybe not completely, but enough to empathize.
And to care.